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First Church of God in Columbia City has been an influence in Whitley County since 1885. After decades in a smaller building, the church purchased land and built an attractive, community-minded building in 2001. First Church is known as a church that loves and serves its community.

In 2018, First Church completed an overhaul of its Worship Center. They added new screens, removed all of the pews, installed stadium seating, and added new carpet, stage, lighting, and sound system.

First Church is healthy, vibrant, and poised for growth. They have recently restructured their staff and hired an executive pastor to provide leadership and direction for the church to realize its tremendous potential impact in Columbia City and all of Whitley County. Pre-Covid, First Church averaged 1,200 on Sunday.

Everything about First Church boldly proclaims its message to their community:
You Belong Here!


Our passion is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.


We want to be a church for people to Land and Launch - where anyone can land, and everyone is trained to launch.


Worship: We create environments of authentic worship where people want to participate and invite others to join in.

Small Groups: We have small groups for accountability, belonging, and care.

Family: We guide kids, engage students, and resource families to grow closer to Jesus through irresistible environments, authentic relationships, and helpful teaching.

We shape trajectories by guiding kids, engaging students, and resourcing families to grow closer to Jesus through irresistible environments, authentic relationships, and helpful teaching.

Missions: We train people to live lives that are on-mission daily. We partner with organizations around the world that focus on leadership multiplication and reaching the least reached with the gospel.  

Leadership Development: We intentionally develop leaders in every area of our ministries in order to make room for exponential growth.


At First Church of God, students matter! The student ministry philosophy is distinctly relational with a high value to help students deepen their relationship with Jesus.

The student ministry has a strong volunteer team of thirty highly motivated adults who invest in the lives of middle school and high school students. In the six months since the previous student pastor left, the associate student pastor and two interns have done a great job taking the lead and continuing to move the ministry of 160 students forward.

Middle school and high school students both have opportunities to meet in small groups during the Sunday morning services. There is also a high school student leadership team that serves in various ministries on Sunday morning.

Both middle and high school students meet Sunday evening in separate, attractive student rooms. The student leadership team meets on Wednesday for training and a small group.

What's Next?

First Church of God recognizes this may be the time for movement and change in the student ministry. They seek a holistic approach to student ministries to equip students to follow Jesus throughout their day while having the heart and skills to care for and lead their friends to Christ.

They also want to intentionally invest in the students of their community who don't know Jesus. Simultaneously, they want to evaluate how they can best prepare students for life beyond high school. In a post-Christian world, First Church wants students to grasp the depths of what it means to be a follower of Jesus and that a relationship with Jesus is relevant and essential to experiencing a purpose-filled life.


Pastor Johnny McCallister received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Studies and Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Alderson Broaddus College (Philippi, WV) in 1986.

He served in youth pastorates at his home church, First Baptist Church of Kenova (WV), and Broadway Christian Church in Fort Wayne (IN). For ten years, Johnny served as Associate Pastor, first at Sonrise Church in Fort Wayne (IN) then at The Chapel, also in Fort Wayne. In 2009, he accepted the call to serve as the Senior Pastor at the First Church of God, Columbia City (IN). He also earned a Master of Ministry degree from Bethel College (Mishawaka, IN) in 2008.

Pastor Johnny brings great gentleness, care, and creativity to the staff and church community. He loves First Church and the people of Columbia City. His greatest strengths are hospitality, mercy, shepherding, and he has a profoundly pastoral heart. Johnny is married to Sherrie, and they have two daughters and two sons.

First Church of God is a staff-led church with a lay leadership group that consists of three teams: Elders, Stewardship team, and Trustees. The Elders provide spiritual leadership, the Stewardship team provides fiscal oversight, and the trustees oversee the building and grounds. There are staff representatives on each of those teams.


Columbia City is a small town of nearly 10,000 residents near the larger city of Fort Wayne, consisting of 270,000 citizens. Columbia City locals get the best of both worlds: small-town community and big-city amenities.

Columbia City is known for being a great place to live. People who work in Warsaw and Fort Wayne (two neighboring larger cities) often live in Columbia City because of its reputation for being a warm, wonderful community. The town is agricultural, but it's also a quaint town that is becoming a bit of a destination with shops, a farmers market, and local restaurants and businesses. Plus, their new state-of-the-art high school is attracting more families to the area.

The surrounding culture is classic midwestern: hard-working people and loving communities who care about one another. Columbia City is the best of the midwest—you get a beautiful small town, excellent schools, and the amenities of a larger city like Fort Wayne nearby.

The average price for a home in the area is $160,000.
Learn more about Columbia City and Whitley County HERE and HERE.


This full-time position will oversee the entire Student Ministry (6th-12th graders). This includes (but is not limited to) managing the weekly gatherings, events, outreach, and shepherding of students, families, and volunteers.

This person will have a high gift of leadership combined with a shepherding/pastoral heart and an ability to cast a compelling vision of where God is leading the student ministry in conjunction with First Church as a whole.  Creating community, culture, and trust amongst teams to further the reach of the student ministry is a top priority. In the end, this person will have the ability to create a safe environment for students all over the spiritual spectrum to take steps on their journey with Jesus.  


  • Visionary for student ministry
  • Primary teacher and communicator
  • Lead and oversee Associate Student Pastor
  • Implement follow-up with new and current students
  • Develop and implement student leadership opportunities
  • Build significant relationships with students and parents
  • Create community and relational opportunities through events and activities
  • Be proactive and have the initiative to troubleshoot and evaluate in order to expand the ministry

    Spiritual Gifts Helpful For This Position

  • Wisdom
  • Leadership
  • Discernment
  • Teaching
  • Shepherding
  • Character Traits Needed For This Position

  • Personal Relationship with Jesus
  • High relationship skills
  • Humble, Flexible, Teachable, and Trustworthy 
  • Authentic and consistent in his/her own spiritual walk and relationships 
  • Ability to keep necessary information confidential 
  • Good people skills / Team player 
  • Self-directed / Takes initiative  
  • Passionate about First Church
  • Necessary Skills and Attributes

  • Highly administrative
  • Detail-oriented
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Aptitude for database systems
  • Required Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree (Master’s preferred)
  • 5-10 years of ministry experience in a medium-to-large church


    Ready to take the next step?

    Click here to get more information on First Church of God. View previous services and learn about some of the key ministries of the church.

    Think this role and church culture might be a good fit? Contact Gregg Farah to discuss.

    Gregg Farah // 646.335.3342 //